WHY KING OF SCARS WAS DISAPPOINTING: A RANT
As the biggest piece of Leigh Bardugo trash alive (probably) this post isn’t easy for me to write, but I have to come out and confess that I sort of, kind of hated King of Scars a little bit.
Disclaimer: As usual I am incapable of writing a review without massive spoilers. I just have a lot of feelings and I need to discuss them. Seriously don’t read this if you’re not caught up on the Grisha Trilogy/Six of Crows etc.
BASICALLY, this novel, the first in Bardugo’s new duology, is supposed to be about the ever-charming King Nikolai and his newly acquired demon friend. But realistically, it felt like we got all of three chapters from Nikolai’s point of view and by the end of the novel, our demon is still lingering. Make sense? Not to me. This is the first of my gripes.
This novel bored the seven shades of shit out of me. I never imagined myself saying this about any of Bardugo’s works but I can’t lie about this to you guys. I picked up King of Scars in June and trudged my way through until somewhere around the halfway mark before I just COULDN’T DEAL ANYMORE. I figured perhaps I was in the wrong frame of mind what with being in the middle of exams in the final year of my degree and all that. But cut to December and nothing had changed; I found myself having to physically force my hand to pick up this book every evening. I felt so utterly disconnected from the characters, I couldn’t even get myself to swoon over Nikolai or Nina’s features or the sneaky references to the Crows. The character interactions felt forced and distant and the whole first 60% of this book’s plot was just a general snooze fest for me.
That leads me to my next complaint: what the hell even happened in this book? NOTHING, that’s what. We start off with some cool eerie scenes that tell us Nikolai is having demon problems. Cool, great, that’s a problem that’s going to have to be solved, right? Apparently, in 511 pages, that wasn’t a viable option. Bardugo dragged us through so many pointless scenes that seemed to add nothing to the story and I just have so many whys. Jarl Brum experimenting on a bunch of Grisha girls by forcibly impregnating them and then injecting them with some weird form of jurda parem. A woman made of bees. Zoya becoming a dragon (I think?). It was all kind of weird and nonsensical. I realise this is a fantasy novel but am I wrong to think that some kind of line was crossed here?
Also, as much as I loved having Nina in this book, I’m also questioning what the purpose of that subplot even was, but I suppose it’s something that will hopefully be elaborated on in the sequel.
Okay, rant over because I do obviously need to address the fact that King of Scars did indeed have its redeeming factors. First of all, I loved the fact that we finally got a closer look at Zoya in this book. Finally seeing her for who she is, and not through the judgmental eyes of Alina Starkov was refreshing and I really felt like I connected to Zoya in this book. On a semi-related note, yes, I am here for Zoyalai.
I also absolutely adored Isaak as a character. He was so pure, and I genuinely can’t believe Bardugo did him dirty like that. His chapters were interesting, and his inner dialogue just made me fall head over heels in love with him. I would have loved more of Isaak in the sequel but ANYWAY.
Finally, I obviously have to address that Darkling bomb dropped right at the end there. Did we all see it coming? Yes. Did I absolutely lose my shit anyway? Also yes. I am SO EXCITED THE DARKLING IS BACK. This is the whole entire reason I found it in my heart to graciously grant this book it’s 3,5 star rating.
“So many of my old friends, gathered in once place,’ said the Darkling from the mouth of a loyal, gullible boy. Another fool who had loved him. “It’s good to be home.”
Did you not just die? I did. It finished me. And now I’m going to round up this review right here because it’s been so long since I’ve written one I seem to have forgotten how. Maybe now that I’ve finished my degree I’ll write somewhat more consistently. Maybe I won’t. We shall see.
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